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For Chargers, a year of highs and lows

Monday, January 13, 2014 | 6:57 p.m. CST
San Diego Chargers inside linebacker Donald Butler and Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas look on as San Diego Chargers cornerback Richard Marshall picks up a fumble by Thomas in the second quarter of Sunday's AFC division playoff football game in Denver.

SAN DIEGO — A look at some highlights and lowlights from the San Diego Chargers' 10-8 season that ended with a 24-17 loss in the AFC divisional playoffs to the Denver Broncos.

Best game: The Chargers stunned Denver 27-20 on Dec. 12 in the Mile High City, the Broncos' only home loss of the season. With Ryan Mathews rushing 29 times for 127 yards, San Diego held the ball for 38 minutes, 49 seconds, to keep Peyton Manning off the field.

Worst game: A 30-24 overtime loss at Washington on Nov. 3. The Chargers had a first-and-goal inside the 1-yard line and a chance to win in the closing seconds but failed to score a touchdown, settled for a tying field goal and then lost in overtime. Mathews wasn't on the field for the final three offensive plays.

Best play: Philip Rivers' 26-yard touchdown pass to Seyi Ajirotutu with 24 seconds left that lifted the Chargers to a thrilling 41-38 victory at Kansas City on Nov. 24. The wild win ended a three-game losing streak and helped save the season.

Worst play: Allowing Peyton Manning to complete a 20-yard pass to Julius Thomas on third-and-17 from the Broncos' 20-yard line, the first of three third-down conversions on Denver's final possession Sunday. The Chargers had preached communication and not allowing big plays, and then failed at both.

Biggest surprise: Wide receiver Keenan Allen, who fell to the third round before the Chargers drafted him. After catching 71 passes for 1,046 yards in the regular season, he's a leading candidate for the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. His two touchdown catches in the fourth quarter Sunday helped bring back the Bolts.

Biggest disappointment: CB Derek Cox, who signed a four-year contract for about $20 million, with about $10 million guaranteed. He struggled so badly that he was benched three times in four games, leading rookie coach Mike McCoy to tell the media there was a competition for jobs in the secondary.

What's next: The Chargers' biggest free agent is inside linebacker Donald Butler, who had a solid season. Team will also have to decide whether to part ways with Cox.


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